Electronic Library of Scientific Literature


Volume 43, 1/1995



Lia Sidler, Ethnologisches Seminar der Universitat Zūrich, Schweiz

The article, dedicated to the problematics of identity, combines a theoretical understanding of psychology with the author's research in the Bratislava area. Considerable attention has been dedicated to ethnic identity. In relating ethnicity to culture, language, history, outstanding personalities, along with tradition and custom, the author understands it as being one part of basic human identity.
Conceptions of ethnocentrism or multicultural society are considered in relation to this. Ethnocentric orientations of individuals have the inclination to show the criteria for "us and them" and to emphasize the homogeneity of these groups (their own group, to which they feel common belonging, and [an] outsider group[s] from which they differentiate themselves). Differences between an actual group and others are understood as unchanging, as a "phenomenon of genetic coding".
The multicultural orientation contrasts with ethnocentric thinking. Such an orientation of personality does not judge one's own culture as the only possible or as the best of the lot, but it instead appreciates cultural pluralism. It is clearly in relation to bilingualism: with politicians of ethnocentric tendencies there is a preference towards the rapid assimilation of children of minority groups such their native language should be neglected, while in the cases of a multicultural orientation, politicians regard it as important that children should learn their "mother tongue" as well the language of the majority. The solving of this problem in Slovakia plays an important role where the survival language minorities and also cultural minorities is in question.
In the next part of the study the author analyzes various theoretical approaches to the terms of identity. Special attention is paid to the ideas of E. Erikson, the psychoanalyst, with relating identity and society in parts of N. Elias, and with the work of S. Freud, C. G. Jung and so on. General knowledge is concretized in the section of the article, "Ethnic forms of identity in Bratislava". The author comes to the conclusion that ethnic development always carries in itself something of ambivalence. This ambivalence lies solely in the essence of ethnic groups which on the one hand, promise common cultural belonging, but on the other hand, these can possibly lead to dangerous stereotypes.
pp. 5-19



PhDr. Sona Kovacevicova, DrSc., Groslingova 49, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovakia

In Slovakia, archaeological, historiographical, linguistic, and ethnological documents point to the developing relationship of folk culture and the culture of the city. This has shown that individual elements had come to a culture from one social environment to another. Being placed in a new environment these elements begin to fulfill new roles. In the choices of these elements, climate and natural resources play an important role in the choices of these elements, but local traditions and local administrative decree should must be considered important as well.
Archaeological excavations from the 6th century, when the earliest Slovaks began to settle in the Carpathian Area, demonstrate that gradually Slovaks biologically and culturally mixed with the Avars, Markomans, and later the Magyars. As was similarly elsewhere in Europe, the basic building materials were clay, wood, or stone. Earthen (subterranean dug-outs) and half-earthen dwellings had covered space with saddled roofs held with socha and slemeno or by posts. This was also the appearance across all of Europe. Spatial division was connected with the social position of inhabitants: the commoner lived for the most part in one-room earthen dwellings; secular and church dignitaries lived in three-room dwellings built above the ground level. In the 13th century, in cities such as Bratislava, three-room stone houses appeared, with a courtyard with a winecellar and farm buildings with walls of post construction. In connection with socio-economic reform arising in the 13th century, cities and colonized communities arose with ordered street construction, or with regular squares, in which would stand a church, the ideological center, and the town hall, the place of secular occurences. A three-room home with farm buildings in the courtyard, an established regular steet network in the community and a network of bounded roadways became essentially obligatory features that would end up being maintained for the next seven centuries.
Cities facing outside stress with fortifications did not have population space to grow, because new methods were found of widening the available house. These were found under the same roof with the narrow entrances to the courtyard, from which podbrany were developed, used in drawing wine, trading, cooking and so on. Another method was building another floor where goods could be stored. Sleeping quarters would eventually be established in this space and then regular living space on the second floor would develop from this later.
Such dated two-story houses survive in various parts of Slovakia in cities and also in some villages. People of various class identities occupied these houses, including yeoman, miners, artisans and colonizing agents. Iconographic proof shows that two types of homes were prevalent in most of the territory: houses with brick peaks or houses of planking with podlomenica. In the cities and mountain villages, shingles were used as roofing material, while in the villages, straw was usually used.
Houses that ethnologists have found in rural areas at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th have had their origins in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries when artisans, craftsmen, journeyman, apprentices and farmers live on the side streets. Most of these building forms survived in cities in connection with changes of inhabitants and with the societal decline during the on-going wars with the Turks. In this case, however, opposite development took place that is also connected to the fact that, strategically, Slovakia was an important territory. New elements were mainly manifest in the technical and fortifying buildings and this influenced new carpentry constructions as well.
In the 18th century, with the reforms of Maria Theresa and then of Joseph, cities became the center of new developmental tendencies with the establishment of new schools, artisanry works, and new manufacturing and trade. Central orders also covered the protection of woods. A consequence of this was that clay and stone began to be more widely introduced as building materials. The "renaissance" and reconstruction of cities required a new work force which was found in the largely Slovak northern mountain counties of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Masons and carpenters came from this region (especially from around Liptov), migrating annually to Hungarian and Austrian cities. Some also left for longer, going to America for work.
Returning home, these migrants then applied their new building skills to their home environment. Therefore, in the latter part of the 19th century, the so-called "mason" home came into being which had a basement and had vaulted storage granaries above the main room. A central brick chimney would also be built in this time allowing the heating of all areas. By the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, such a home had become typical for Northern Slovakia.
The industrialization of Slovakia had as its consequence the migration of rural inhabitants to new industrial centers. The workers colonies were supposed to solve bad conditions of accommodations for the these workers. Only in the 1930's, however, were regulations of lighting, heating and equipment being general respected, when new streets of workers' cooperative houses were established. This process of construction on the one hand improved the living conditions of the majority of inhabitants, but, on the other hand, however, it led to the downfall of much of rural architecture. Therefore, since the 1980's, there have existed tendencies to direct construction of rural areas such that new buildings will not be disruptive in changing the environment, but instead will support and accentuate the regional distinctions of the countryside.
pp. 20-37



Katya Mihailova, BĒlgarska akademija na naukite, Institut za folklor, Sofia, Bulgaria

A series of Slav folk texts such as folk songs (religious-and-legendary songs in particular), tales, legends and proverbs, are based on the opposition of rich vs poor where "poverty" and "richness" are moral rather than economic categories. Poverty is presented as a virtue synonymous of righteousness and holiness and the poor are usually associated with God and Christ. By contrast, the rich are associated with Satan and have character traits such as envy, miserliness, laziness, haughtiness and ugliness. The exponents of folklore, who interpreted natural and social phenomena through labour practices and human relationships in the patriarchal agricultural community - relationships based on joint work and mutual help - saw riches as wrong and sinful.
This semantic characteristic of the categories of "rich" and "poor" in folklore is closest to their interpretation as moral categories in the New Testament. The ascetic monastic ideal in the works of the Early Christian fathers both in the East and West is also present in certain texts from official Old Bulgarian literature. This interpretation is based on the gospel parable of the rich and the poor Lazarus. A similar interpretation of richness and poverty is to be found in Bogomil literature.
A later interpretation - both in official mediaeval West European literature (Polish and Bohemian included) and a series of official ecclesiastical works in mediaeval Bulgaria - does not condemn wealth; the rich are presented as God's chosen few generously endowed with affluence by God himself, and wealth is not seen as an obstacle to salvation. This polar image of the rich is close to the interpretation of the category of "richness" in the Old Testament where the wealthy are regarded as a divine creation that is just as righteous as the poor. This interpretation is based on the biblical tale of the righteous Job. Positive moral assessments of the rich are extremely scarce in Slavic folk texts.
pp. 38-46



Slavka Badacova - Corbova, Michalovska 11, 040 01 Kosice, Slovakia

In the first half of the 20th century, the social life of the inhabitants of the eastern Slovakian city of Kosice took place in many places, either in closed arenas or in open spaces. For all places of social contact it was generally characteristic that visitors would come from the heterogenerous social, ethnic, or religious backgrounds which were typical for the period in Kosice. Cafe or restaurant surroundings served as the place of social contact for meeting socially amongst the middle and upper classes. This was therefore different from the space of the street where contact was made with all levels of Kosice society, without regard to societal and social position. The streets were also the place of social communication for people, because of the norms of the period, who were excluded from certain other places of social contacts. Examples of those people who were excluded would be, for instance, prostitutes, beggars and strangers to the society.
Available documents show that, in the environment of the free space, people associated and mutually respected each other's widely varying social, societal, age, and interest groups (for example, while walking along the city "promenade"). The heterogenity of the city environment was apparent not only in societal, ethnic and religious differentiation and in the existence of different societal-social and professional interest groups, but also in the fact that individual groups created relatively closed societies and had their own regular places of meeting. Mutual contacts of this heterogenous society took place with the form of verbal (greetings, conversations) or gestured communication (the kissing of hands, the tipping of hats). Forms of communication, however, were dependent on the relationship of individuals or groups which were making contact and, at the same time, able to demonstrate the differences between various social levels. An acceptance of variations of ethnicity, religion, profession, or age, determined that, in places of mutual social contact, friendly interpersonal relations were prevalent.
Historical events interupted this picture, however, in the 1930's and 1940's. The Second World War and the socialist period to follow interfered with, at fundamental levels, the lives of individuals. The structure of communities was changed. In this way, these events also changed the whole of Kosice's social life. It is possible to consider Kosice, in its social and cultural life in the first half of the 20th century, as being among the smaller cities with the character of a regional center. The cultural environment has been comparable with the cultural backgrounds of other cities, for example compared with Bratislava, as a representative of big city culture with specific cultural elements.
pp. 47-56



PhDr. Lubica Chorvathova, Institute of Ethnology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Jakubovo nam. 12, 813 64 Bratislava, Slovakia

In Slovakia, under circumstances of long centuries cohabitation within multi-ethnic Hungarian Realm, the categories of 'social' and 'national' identity became very dynamic characteristics of individual, or, society. Uniqueness of Slovakian political history is firmly rooted in fact that its territory was until 1918 completely stateless, without any form of home rule. Thus, the medieval power system based on feudal counties and royal cities, both of them having multi-ethnic population, disintegrated, in addition, by social and confessional structure, persisted until as late as the end of the nineteenth century. Having seized superiority in political life, the Magyar ruling class strived to manipulate non-Magyar national identities within realm. In this way, the changing political regimes contributed substantially to dynamism of identities.
pp. 57-74
pp. 57-74